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For around 25 years of my life, I was hiding a long-term secret. Even my closest family members didn't know. I dressed in dresses. I wore makeup. I had boobs. But, despite all these things, I wasn't comfortable. I didn't feel comfortable as a girl.
When I didn't dress or act girly, others would call me ugly, weird, or just downright "wrong." They'd ask "Why don't you dress more like a girl? What's your problem?"
Wanting to avoid the backlash of being weird, I'd dress like a girl, try to act feminine, and quickly get called a slut at school—all while trying to lie to myself and say that I liked the way I looked. I grinned and bore it. I'm pretty sure that anyone in a 10-mile radius realized how fake I was being.
No matter how much I tried to be "right," nothing seemed to click. I felt proudest when I was able to wear goth clothes fit for men, my unisex boots, and have long, slightly dreadlocked hair. People at school didn't like it, though. They called me a freak.
I couldn't understand it. I didn't get why I had to be emasculated in order to be acceptable. I hated myself; why couldn't I just be good enough without being feminine? It was a question that often popped up in my mind. I felt wrong, just for feeling weird about being stuffed in a skirt.
It took me two whole decades to realize that there was nothing "wrong" with me. I was just born non-binary, during a time when the term "non-binary" didn't exist. When I came out, I felt like a weight lifted off my chest. I was okay with being the gender non-conforming person I was.
These days, the evolution of non-binary identities is one that offers a lot of options for people who just don't fit the traditional molds of "male" and "female." It's such a beautiful thing, and I think many in the LGBTQ community would agree.
Today, I don't wear skirts. I wear jeans, joggers, and baggy tee shirts that hide the size of my chest. I wear platform flip flops, sneakers, and combat boots. I tie my (typically ropey) hair up. I keep my hands and feet manicured. Once in a while, I also add a little makeup, because I still enjoy the way it makes my skin look.
My style is one that I feel presents my lack of gender. I love the "tough" look of a hoodie and a spiked choker. I love the masculine vibe of pants. And yet, I like being aesthetic with a little foundation and lip gloss. It's not a gender I represent; it's an energy.
Oh, and my pronoun? I finally decided on "they," even though the plural sound of it grinds my gears. (I also accept "she," since people usually can't be arsed to learn my pronoun and it generally makes things less awkward at dinners with strangers.)
Now, let's get to something that I'm very happy about. The role of gender in the fashion industry has changed.
We now live in a time when it's easier than ever to dress in a non-binary style that reflects the energy we have inside us. If you're like me, you'll find the advent of gender-neutral clothing brands such as the ones below to be a welcome addition to your wardrobe—and a wonderful celebration of who you are.
Known for being one of the more eccentric gender-neutral clothing brands on the market, 69's main themes involve heavy 90s throwback color themes crossed with loose clothing that helps conceal gender-defining body shape features in a beautifully retro, flowy way.
Individuals who love clothes that are not defined by gender or subculture will adore 69's work. It's a beautiful statement on individuality, casual wear, and carefree nods of approval to those who refuse to be put in a box.
Faye Toogood, one of the UK's top furniture designers, has a pet project that every fashionista should know about. She's behind one of the hottest gender-neutral clothing brands in London.
Her unisex clothing collection focuses in on denim and outerwear. What really stands out about Toogood London's stylings isn't just the fact that they look ready to hit the covers of Vogue. Ethereal and pointedly modern, Toogood is one of the few brands that managed to do non-binary in an elegant and mainstream-friendly manner.
Some gender-neutral clothing brands may be a little bit coy about showing their LGBT roots, but not this one. NotEqual is the brainchild of Project Runway's own Fabio Costa—and the goal was to create clothing that defines beauty beyond gender conformity.
Long, flowing garments with striking lines and elegant materials that just seem to drape the body. Unlike a lot of other gender-neutral brands out there, NotEqual does occasionally carry skirts and dresses, if that's your thing.
Let's just be real, here. No matter what your gender (or lack thereof) happens to be, wearing NotEqual will make you look good.
Oh, how long I have yearned to be able to pull off a well-tailored suit that hides my chest but doesn't look frumpy while doing it! For so long, I assumed people in my situation just weren't "suit people."
People who understand the desire to wear a slick suit that accentuates your form of gender expression have a very hard time finding anything even remotely figure flattering. Sharpe Suiting changed all that with customized suits for people who want a suit that reflects their gender expression.
Elegant streetwear often seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron to people—until, of course, they see the work of Angie Chuang. Known for being capable of blending androgyny, formal wear, and streetwear together, Angie Chuang has become one of the most in-demand gender-neutral clothing brands in New York City.
This brand, started by Angie Chuang herself, has gotten acclaim from names like Elite Daily, Vice, and Qwear for its innovative take on what it means to be androgynous.
Australia-based CharlieBoy has long been known to raise a middle finger to gender constructs. Non-binary fans will find CharlieBoy's offerings to be the perfect walk between masculine and feminine, all with a touch of genderfluidity.
Their jackets, bowties, and perfectly draping shirts are what make them one of the most popular Australian gender-neutral clothing brands out there. The fact that they have a line of clothes for dogs? Well, that just makes them extra awesome.
If there has ever been a brand that has become a darling of the LGBTQ community, it's Haute Butch. Though they are technically known as a lesbian brand, the sheer amount of non-binary clothing items they offer up makes them one of the largest gender-neutral clothing brands on the net.
Truth be told, they are a great brand for anyone who wants to embrace the andro lifestyle. Whether it's formal wear or something a little more casual, Haute's an amazing brand to follow.
Finding gender-neutral clothing brands that offer a new twist on streetwear isn't easy. That's what makes Stuzo Clothing's designs so impressive. They're pointedly genderless, delightfully urban, and at the same time, sophisticated.
Stuzo is one of those companies that really knows how to make an Instagram-worthy design. A quick look at their social media proves that point flawlessly.
Canada's own Muttonhead has become one of the more popular unisex clothing brands to feature flattering cuts, cozy jackets, and absolutely beautiful jeans. Ideal for camping and wholesome to the core, it's easy to see why Muttonhead's popularity goes beyond the LGBTQ community.
This hyper-popular brand is so widespread, they even launched the first unisex kids' line of its kind, nicknamed "Lil' Mutts" by fans.
We Are Mortals
What's fashion without a little wild streak in it? We Are Mortals is one of those brands that is made to shake things up. Gender-free, bold, and urban to the core, this is one of the most daring gender-neutral brands that you can find.
We Are Mortals offers the kind of clothing that you want to wear when you want to turn heads... and also look hyper-futuristic while you do it. Genderless clubwear never looked so amazing.
Wildfang is a name you already might have recognized as a leading feminist brand, but did you know they also qualify as one of the most popular gender-neutral clothing brands out there, too? It's true! Take a look at their Instagram.
Founded by feminists for people who want to see a more inclusive fashion world, wearing Wildfang clothing is a great way to do it. This isn't just a genderless brand; it's a clothing company that wants to make a difference in the best way possible.